Inclined to Speak


An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Poetry
Edited by Hayan Charara
978-1-55728-867-7 (paper)
March 2008


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At no other time in American history has our imagination been so engrossed with the Arab experience. An indispensable and historic volume, Inclined to Speak gathers together poems, from the most important contemporary Arab American poets, that shape and alter our understanding of this experience. These poems also challenge us to reconsider what it means to be American. Impressive in its scope, this book provides readers with an astonishing array of poetic sensibilities, touching on every aspect of the human condition. Whether about culture, politics, loss, art, or language itself, the poems here engage these themes with originality, dignity, and an unyielding need not only to speak, but also to be heard.

Here are thirty-nine poets offering up 160 poems. Included in the anthology are Naomi Shihab Nye, Samuel Hazo, D. H. Melhem, Lawrence Joseph, Khaled Mattawa, Mohja Kahf, Matthew Shenoda, Kazim Ali, Nuar Alsadir, Fady Joudah, and Lisa Suhair Majaj. Charara has written a lengthy introduction about the state of Arab American poetry in the country today and short biographies of the poets and provided an extensive list of further readings.

Hayan Charara was a visiting professor of poetry writing at the University of Texas at Austin in 2005. Before that he taught in New York City. He is the author of two collections of poetry, The Sadness of Others and The Alchemist’s Diary. Born in Detroit, Michigan, to immigrant parents, he currently lives in Texas. He is also a woodworker.

“Hayan Charara’s rich anthology of Arab-American poetry in this moment couldn’t be more timely; this book opens eyes, opens worlds.”
—Mark Doty, author of Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems

Inclined to Speak is one of the most fruitfully diverse anthologies I have read in years, as its wealth of origins might lead one to expect. Here are poets in the high tradition of international Modernism, inheritors of Neruda, Hikmet, Celan, Ritsos and Darwish, who also deploy American poetry’s plural possibilities, drawing from the same sources as Stevens, Oppen, Rukeyser, Brooks, Ginsberg, Rich. Some of these poets can think and sing in more than one language; they all can think beyond monoglot frontiers.”
—Marilyn Hacker, author of Essays on Departures: New and Selected Poems, 1980–2005

Inclined to Speak, especially in this Time, Place & Condition, when most of The Free World’s Foreign Policy consists of Lies, Slander & Invasion is like Wolfbane when you hear the werewolf howling. It opens the door to a world breathing like our own, but adding dimensions that deepen our understanding of where we are and what time it is, that are immense, dreadful and wonderful.”
—Amiri Baraka, author of Somebody Blew up America and Other Poems

“These poems are a kaleidoscope of stories, visions, memories that offer a kind of transcendence we so desperately need right now. This is a marvelous collection that gives readers room to breathe, to fly, to wonder and to cry.”
—Persis M.Karim, editor and contributing poet, Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been

Adopted at: Brown University
Course: LITR 1231C Experimental Poets of Color
Course Description: In this course we’ll read and critically engage with contemporary experimental poets of color writing in English in the US and Canada. Exploring the intersection of poetics, aesthetics, critical race (and mixed race) theory, and social justice activism in the arts, we will question the modernist and post-modernist assumptions that experimentation and innovation are exclusively the domain of whiteness. We will explore how racism, colonialism, and other contemporary systems of oppression condition responses to poets of color, and consider how poets of color respond to and engage with these systems both overtly and through their aesthetic experimentation.
Professor: Erica Mena-Landry
Term: Spring 2019

Adopted at: Pittsburg State University
Course: ENGL 566, American Theme: Asian American Literature
Course Description: A study of a theme or idea in two or more genres in American literature.
Professor: Sandra Cox
Term: Spring 2015

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